Category Archives: EABL

Urban Inflation Index: March 2013

Gift from Uganda during the Kenya Supreme Court hearings
March 2013 saw the highly anticipated Kenya general election. There was a lot of uncertainty in the country, and beyond on what  impact it would have on the regional economies.

There were some familiar and ominous signs. The heavy investment the government had made in electronic vote systems failed, and it was a close race with a disputed result. However, unlike in 2008, the dispute was settled in the Kenya Supreme Court, and not in the streets. 

Ahead of all this, some Nairobians engaged in some extra shopping or stocking up which some called it panic shopping – but this was actually as prudent as shopping ahead of an approaching hurricane or storm, which may veer off at the last minute.
On to the index that compares prices to 3 months ago and a year ago.

Gotten Cheaper


About the Same

Staple Food: A 2kg pack of (Unga) Maize flour, which is used to make Ugali that is eaten by a majority of Kenyans daily, costs Kshs. 105, which is down from 107 in December, but up from 97 a year ago

Other food item: A 2 kg. pack of Mumias sugar pack is Kshs 250, same as three months ago. It was 245 a year ago.

Communications: Telephone call and data rates are largely unchanged, and there have been few new mobile promotions,  with some items offered free like access to Facebook (Yu), Wikipedia (Orange), money transfer (airtel).

Fuel: Petrol prices in March were Kshs 117.6 per litre (~$6.12 per gallon) slightly higher compared to Kshs. 111.6 per litre a year ago and 112.6  last December.

Utilities/Electricity:  A pre-paid token purchase of Kshs. 500 purchase from the Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) gets about  33 units, compared to 31 a year ago. However the units are only a fraction of the bill with 4/5 of that Kshs. 500 payment going to pay for power generation debts, forex & fuel charges and even inflation. It’s odd that even as heavy rains cause floods around the country, and presumably fill hydro dams,  KPLC still procures private thermal power and bills consumers for the costs.

Foreign Exchange: 1 US$ equals Kshs. 85.63 compared to Kshs. 86 three months ago and Kshs. 83 a year ago. The shilling did not dip much ahead of the election as many had expected.

More Expensive

Beer/Entertainment: A bottle of Tusker beer is Kshs 200 ($2.35) (at a local pub) up  from Kshs 180 where it has been for quite a while. The price increase was driven by local brew giant  East African Breweries that’s got some debt issues.

Idea Exchange: Opportunities Galore: Blogs, Dust, Eggs, Interns, PhD’s, Oil, Social Media, Weddings

Some open opportunities to apply for; 

(Edit) African Banker Awards: The 2013 African Banker Awards competition is now on. Winners will be selected in categories of  African bank, African banker, best bank (in North Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa, Central Africa regions),  retail bank,  investment bank , most innovative bank, socially responsible bank,  financial inclusion award, investment fund/private equity fund,  deal of the year, mortgage bank/product,  and brokerage house of the year. Deadline is 11 March.

African Development Bank: 2013 Internship Programme Session 2 – Provides students with an opportunity to acquire professional and practical experience at the African Development Bank and the Bank with a pool of potential candidates for future recruitment purposes.

Also, the #AfDB’s Regional Integration Dept is seeking junior consultants. Apply now.

PhD Fellowships from the African Economic Research Consortium  for people who have gained admission in 2013-14 to selected universities such as Cornell, Oxford, Ohio State or the Universities of Bonn, Sussex, Newcastle and others.  Apply through these university websites before April 30.  
The African Leadership Academy seeks to  enroll the most outstanding young leaders from across Africa and around the world. Deadline is February 28..

The African Leadership Academy also has the inaugural ‘African Teacher of the Year Award’ to celebrate teaching excellence on the African continent. The final 3 shortlisted finalists will be honored at a gala dinner in Johannesburg, South Africa in October in front of media, the headmasters of 100 of the leading schools in Africa, and other dignitaries. The winner of the award will also win a cash prize of $10,000. Nominate an outstanding African secondary school teacher- by the 31st of March, 2013 to

Aga Khan Foundation: International Scholarships – scholarships and loans for postgraduate studies in 2013-14 to outstanding students from the developing world. The Foundation assists students with tuition fees and living expenses only and half of the scholarship amount is considered as a loan, which must be reimbursed with an annual service charge of 5%. Application deadline is 31 March.

(Edit) Anzisha Prize 2013: Has $75,000 in cash prizes for youth entrepreneurs. Details here and deadline for the @anzishaprize is April 1.
BAKE: Kenyan Blog Awards 2013 awards aim to reward and recognize exceptional bloggers creating content in technology, photography, creative writing, business, food, environmental / agricultural, style, politics, corporate, sports, lifestyle, travel, new blog and others.  Deadline is February 1.
Big Brother Africa: BBA 2013 kicks off in May. To qualify, participants have to be above the age of 21 and speak fluent English.
Blackberry: Developers may apply for Built for Blackberry reviews and the $10,000 Developer Commitment before February 18.

(Edit) CNN Multichoice African Journalist 2013 is open to African nationals, working on the continent for African owned, or headquartered, media organisations and with work that has appeared in printed publications or electronic media that is primarily targeted at and received by an African audience. Deadline is 17 April 2013.

(Edit) The 10th edition of Diageo’s DABRA awards is now open. The Diageo Africa Business Reporting Awards will recognize journalists and editors who provide high quality coverage of the business environment in Africa in ten categories including ICT, finance, infrastructure, agribusiness / environment, tourism, best business story, business feature, newcomer, media of the year, and journalist of the year. Deadline is March 15.

(Edit) East Africa Philanthropy Awards: The 2013 EAPA awards from the East Africa Association of Grantmakers is now open for nominations in philanthropy categories for individuals, youth, faith-based, community, social entrepreneurs, and corporate philanthropy. Deadline is 30 March.
Egg Hatching Incubators are being lent to individuals and groups on credit, and with no interest charge. 
Faithful Frames: Win a free wedding photoshoot worth Kshs. 15,000 (~$175). Deadline is  Jan 28.

(Edit) Film Mentorship Program: Opportunity for talented young African filmmakers involved in directing, scriptwriting, production, camera, production design, sound design and editing, to enroll in a workshop where they will meet professional filmmakers from all over the world in September 2013. Details here and deadline is 1 May.

(Edit) The International Academy of Journalism 2013/2014 Fellowship program Journalism in the Digital World is now open.  Deadline is May 3, 2013.

Kings Pool Challenge League: EABL’s Pilsner brand is sponsoring a national pool tournament that runs from 21 January to May 4 2013.
(Edit) The 2013 edition of Mobile Web East Africa  is on later in February in Nairobi. Read more about the event.

Nestlé Prize in Creating Shared Value (CSV) seeks innovative programmes, businesses or social enterprises that innovate with impact in water, nutrition, or rural development. Deadline is March 31

(Edit) PivotEast: The third edition of this mobile startup showcase competition takes place on June 25-26 2013 in Kampala, Uganda, and it is open to  all companies in East Africa including South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Competition will be in five categories of mobile finance, mobile enterprise, mobile society, mobile utility, mobile entertainment – and this year companies can submit a product in more than one category. The deadline for entries  is 15 April.

(Edit) Poptech: The 2013 Social Innovation Fellows program. Details here and deadline is 2 April.

(Edit) The Rockefeller Foundation Next Century Innovators Award series is now open. Nominate people or organizations that can win up to $100,000 for solving entrenched social problems. Deadline is February 28

Squad Digital: The digital agency is seeking an experienced digital business director with  knowledge of social SEO, Mobile (e.g. M-banking) 
TAHMO: Design a sensor that measures a weather or hydrological variable (temperature, wind, dust or lightning) and is both inexpensive and robust.  Deadline is 1 March 2013.
Tony Elumelu Foundation: Is seeking companies to place interns with for periods of  8-10 weeks. They should have revenue of $250,000 – $5 million per year and agree to pay for stipends while the Foundation will  cover the cost of recruitment, travel, and accommodation  
Toyota: Dream Car art contest dubbed “Your Dream—The Car of the Future” aims to create an opportunity for children (in 3 categories) —through drawing pictures of their “dream cars” —to develop their interest in cars. Deadline is January 31. 
Tullow Oil: The Group Scholarship Scheme will offer up to 114 scholarships across its countries of operation (10 for Kenya) for the 2013/14 academic year and these can be in engineering & tech., oil & gas economics, business journalism, law, and others. Deadline is 13 February. 
World Bank Africa: Social media internship – apply by responding to the phrase: #iwant2work4africa because..

Bringing Big Music Concerts to Kenya

Grammy award-winning American singer Erykah Badu is slated to perform in Nairobi, Kenya on December 11. Tickets will cost Kshs 4,000 (~$47) for regular and Kshs 7,500 (~$88) for VIP entries.

Last month there was a bit of debate about the reception of international concert stars who perform in Nairobi. @KenyanPoet  wrote about the live concert business and the value Kenyans give it noting that, while the James Ingram concert in Nairobi attracted 500 fans, a Rick Ross concert in Tanzania attracted 22,000 fans, and Konshens in Uganda drew 25,000 fans.

Another equally interesting perspective came from @ItsBuddhaBlaze who wrote on twitter about the challenges that concert promoters go through in order to bring international musicians to perform in Nairobi. Some of them (nicely archived here)  include:


  • As soon a promoter in Kenya says they bringing an international artist $$$ bells start ringing in all government offices – from Immigration to KRA (the Kenya Revenue Authority)…  
  • The taxes: Immigration, Kenya Revenue, Lands Office, Environment office, Security, Information – everyone (at) these Ministries want a piece.
  • First to pay the artist you show through an Escrow account that you have the full fee. The artist requires a half down payment of the show
  • The Kenyan government then requires the promoter to show a contract between artist & promoter. They take 10% of that fee, and this must be paid in advance.
  • The promoter must then pay Immigration for special work permits. That’s 25,000 (~$295) per member of an entourage – paid in advance.
  • The promoter must then print the tickets and go back to KRA to stamp them. They also tax 10% of the ticket.
  • After paying all these, the promoter must comply with environmental law and pay that noise tax…..I know you already have a headache and promoter hasn’t even paid for the venue which is hectic. Then security, publicity, transportation…by the time any sane person has paid taxes worth their whole investment, some of you will already be retired. So don’t blame promoters.

Finally –  The promoter who brought Sean Paul and Wayne Wonder ran outta business. Losses galore.

We trust that the promoters of the Erykah Badu concert won’t go out of business..or incur a loss. Her concert is sponsored by giant brewer East African Breweries’ @TuskerLite brand. She’s a world-famous artiste who has toured extensively and has a strong track record of award-winning songs like Window Seat, On&On and Tyrone – and the promoters should come out ahead if marketed right. Still, it should be easier to bring more international acts to Kenya.

EDIT: Apparently, promoters of other US stars including Keri Hilson and Chris Brown are also scheduling concerts for December 2012 in Kenya.

Agriculture Moment: VC Funding, Farmer Social Networking

Recap of recent agriculture-themed events and blogs posts
Farm blogs: The agriculture themed blog Tracking The Scent had a recent post that linked to an article by Bedah Mengo about farming being unattractive to young Kenyans.  The blog was the was the winner at the recent Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) in the category of  agriculture blogs agriculture blogs and that also included several worthy competitors including Kipsizoo 
 Young Agropreneur Chronicles of a Kenyan Farmer and the Pan-African Agribusiness & Agroindustry Consortium blog.
Other recent blogs and articles of note relating to agriculture include: 
Timbuktu Chronicles had a post about going back to farming that noted Although Kenyan youths make up over 75 per cent of the country’s population, farming is not considered an attractive option. This mentality has been entrenched in the education system that traditionally dooms the academically challenged to farming, otherwise known as the ‘poor man’s profession’. As a result, according to Kenya’s agricultural ministry, the average age of a Kenyan farmer is 55. However, the tide is beginning to turn.
The blog How We Made it in Africa highlighted nine agribusiness opportunities including fruit juices, cassava, soya bean, sorghum (replacing barley in Kenyan beer) vegetables, milk, and equipment leasing. 
The  Business Daily newspaper had an article on large scale (white) farmers in Kenya  in Tanzania, and some the challenges in terms of production, leasing, markets, diversification and business secessions.

Farm Networks & New Media Tools: The iHub blogged about the results of the Rockefeller Foundation 2012 Innovation Challenges Competition which aimed to generate innovative ideas for how to address water insecurity, food insecurity, as well as key challenges posed by urbanization. Four Kenyan Entries were shortlisted as finalists and two emerged the winners in the categories farming now and decoding data. The one on farming was by Joseph Macharia and aimed to empower youth with agricultural information through radio and other ICTs.
At a recent Wireless Wednesday session at the mLab, several mobile applications relating to agriculure were showcased including Mkulima Calc (a farm management system) GreenhousePro (an input calculator) FarmPal (equipment for hire, sell produce online, find temp farm staff)  Fishmate, GreenHouseDIY and Mpoultry.
There is a very nice & informative Farming Kenya group on Facebook group as well as a mobile social network cfor farmers called
Financing: Away from the traditional financiers in agriculture like banks and the agriculture finance corporation. They covered a variety of targets sectors and are of interest to farmers willing to invest alongside the funders.
Last week saw the launch of a new  Kshs 2 billion (~$25 million) African Agricultural Capital Fund by Pearl Capital Partners that will invest  in high growth businesses in the agricultural value chain in East Africa

They have been in investing in the East Africa region for a few years in diverse companies including in
seed, certification, ethanol and poultry. They invest invest, advise and growing with investee companies over  5 – 7 years.
The fund is seeking agri-business firms with a  turnover of less than $10m, fewer than 150 employees, less than $5m asset value, but which have high quality management chains to invest amounts of $300,000 to 2.5M (Kshs 25 – 200M shillings) in debt or equity. 
At the launch Jane Karuku, the  president of  AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa), spoke about their goal of promoting food security, by invest throughout the food chain from seed to market (including sustainable markets, regional/export) and the work they had done with partner banks and institutions to finance $4 billion in Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique and Tanzania where they have had the greatest success by funding seed companies.

Kenya’s Money in the Past II

Njenga Karume was politician & businessman who grew up on a Delamere farm and in his time he became one of the richest indigenous business people before independence, and later a reluctant, but effective leader of a controversial organization (GEMA), long-term member of parliament and one time Defense Minister of Kenya. He passed away in February 2012 having lived to be an old man though he seemed to slaughter a goat (he was a generous networker) on almost every other page of his autobiography Beyond Expectations – From Charcoal to Gold (written with Mutu wa Gethoi) which was published in 2009.

Here’s another slate condensed version of the book

Seeing opportunity & taking advantage of changes:

  • His first business was in high school where he bought & sold pens to fellow students (by delaying paying his own fees) and undercutting the school shop (page 49)
  • Took up the opportunity to sell liquor when Africans were granted permission (116)
  • Took up the opportunity to go into wholesale business (102)
  • Went into tobacco distribution, though not a smoker (151)
  • Tried to buy shares in the Kenya Wine Agencies Ltd where he clashed with Njonjo (153)

Fortune in Family:

  • When he was unable to find good managers for his growing business empire, his father-in-law advised him to marry a second wife (122) and he learnt that prosperous men acquired additional wives to manage their property (285)
  • Credits his (first) wife for looking after his business even when he was in detention (115, 283)

Fortune in beer:

  • First visited a brewery when he was still a schoolboy (54)
  • He was approached to become a partner to a beer distributor (120)
  • To end a boycott that affected their profits, Kenya Breweries offered Kenyatta a quarter of the shares in the company (135)
  • South Africa Breweries offered him a partnership (271) which later ended his 38-year distribution arrangement with Kenya Breweries and resulted in a costly court case where he was (briefly) awarded 231 million shillings.

African businessman navigating the colonial era:

  • If detained for being a Mau Mau sympathizer, the colonial authorities would freeze someone’s bank account (94)
  • He opened his first bank account with the Standard Bank of South Africa at Nakuru in 1951 (73)
  • Africans needed an exemption certificate to borrow more than 200 shillings from a bank (78)
  • Disgruntled African soldiers after (World War Two) found themselves neglected as their European colleagues got loans to buy land or start businesses (61)

Business & Politics:

  • Navigating presidential orders – see how they work for him (176) and against him (252)
  • Land politics could be volatile (216) but he was able to negotiate tricky land deals, such as one where a group of people wanted to subdivide a large parcel of land, something that had led many group schemes into dispute & fallout (178)
  • Some of his partners pursued Africanization with Asian partners and this cost them all KWAL shares (153)

Advice for Kenya Entrepreneurs:

  • In the world of business, there is no need to give away (your) secrets (51)
  • He advises that Kenya’s (future) prosperity lies in education, technology and industrialization (318)
  • Gives tips for youth engaging in business (313)

Odd stories:

  • His (dying) grandfather tried to bequeath his goat-herd to him, and bypass the rest of the family (23)
  • He was not happy to take an oath in President Kenyatta’s house (206)
  • The case of the missing silver beer mug (238)
  • How did matatus gain exemption from TLB licensing? (220)